I agree with Jim Killackey's “Cameras would help protect state's elderly” (Point of View, Nov. 30). I've made several attempts in the Legislature to address the safety of our nursing home residents, to no avail. Privacy concerns and expense are most often targeted in shooting down the concept of cameras in nursing homes, but when the Government Accounting Office concludes that Oklahoma has the second-worst nursing homes in North America, and we regularly hear of abuse being uncovered, neither reason should supersede the obvious need for implementation of emergency protective measures.
In place of such a rescue plan, staffing is subpar with vulnerable residents being attended to by as many 30 to 40 part-time workers weekly. Privacy in these facilities is subject to interpretation, at best. Greedy, unethical nursing facility owners file bogus claims to get bonus dollars for their underperforming nursing homes from a billion-dollar boondoggle, a taxpayer-funded program known as “Focus on Excellence.” Nursing homes don't have to carry liability coverage for negligence/security, with operators spending their Focus on Excellence bonus dollars on superfluous things such as cosmetic repairs to buildings or landscape.
We behave as if we're grateful for anyone willing to come along and warehouse our precious elderly and disabled. Instead we should be fighting to protect them with everything we can muster! Cameras in nursing homes should be feared only by those guilty of negligence and criminal intent. Let's use the state bonus dollars to pay for cameras; family members will gladly sign privacy waivers!
Rep. Richard Morrissette, Oklahoma City
Morrissette, a Democrat, represents District 92 in the Oklahoma House.